The Outrun Test : An Exercise In Self-Evaluation

It only took a week, but I finally achieved a single clear in Outrun, perhaps my favorite of the ‘classic’ SEGA library.

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This wasn’t my first rodeo, I own and finished ports for both Nintendo 3DS and SEGA CD.  What changed things up this time around was that the arcade machine in Yakuza 0 has fixed difficulty settings and it’s pretty brutal.

And when I say it took a week, these were pretty big sessions, an average of three hours every day.  The last session when I finally won reached just short of seven hours.  For reference, a playthrough from beginning to end only takes about six minutes.

For me, Outrun has always been a therapeutic outlet.  Clearing it only took so long because I couldn’t focus, my mind was elsewhere.  It’s not only useful for treatment, this is the perfect game for testing mental stability.

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Hachi’s Games of 2016 (For Both Measures of that Phrase)

I'm too lazy to make a proper opening pic, here's what Google Images gave me.

I’m too lazy to make a proper opening pic, here’s what Google Images gave me. Just imagine more guns and Italians.

So, 2016. What a fucking thing THAT was, huh? Famous folks dying by the dozens, politics becoming more cartoonish than ever before and people finding new and creative ways to hate each other while inuring themselves against criticism or mind-expanding influences. The cesspool of the internet becomes ever more violently knee-jerk in its reaction to new or unpleasant ideas, and I’m pretty sure someone from Tumblr mailed me an envelope of anthrax for being a straight white guy in a progressive world. DC movies were trash, bookstores disappearing, fire at the disco, dancing in the streets, mass hysteria!

But none of that really matters, because it was also a remarkably good year for video games, both on an objective and personal level. Sure, the stagnation of the Triple-A gaming market is still alive and well, but I found myself drowning in a veritable smorgasbord of high-quality games across handhelds, consoles and even the indiesphere. I played more games this year than I have in quite a long time, even dipping into my long-neglected backlog and investing in some missed gems from generations past, and even if I didn’t finish every one that I got my hands on, good times were had by the bucket-full.

Typical ground rules of listmaking apply. Even though I own a great many of the big releases of the year and plan to hit them all in time, I’m limiting it to games I played either to completion or for enough time to have an informed opinion on them, so sorry to DOOM, Uncharted and Final Fantasy XV. You all look great, but I just haven’t tasted you enough yet. And because I have delusions of legitimacy, abstract superlatives will be handed out to those deserving of them. And finally, the most repetitive but necessary of disclaimers: For the most part, this list represents the games I got the most enjoyment out of regardless of popularity, mainstream appeal or review opinion. Games that left an impact on me in the swirling vortex of activity that is my life. In short, it’s personal opinion so if you don’t like it, eat me. Continue reading

Berserk 2016: To Love in a Time of CG

Hello kids, welcome to Kentarou Miura's wild ride.

Hello kids, and welcome to Kentarou Miura’s wild ride.

First impressions are a bitch, aren’t they? You can spend forever and a day planning out every detail of how you present a product, an idea or shit, even yourself, only for it to blow up in your face because of that one patch of dirt you missed on your lapel, or that one glitch in the machine you didn’t iron out, or maybe the chef working at that new restaurant got some slightly-expired onions or even something as subtle as that one corpse stinking up the back of your car as you drive your hot little date to the movie theater and suddenly she’s all like “Hey, what’s that smell?” and before you know it you’re cleaning chunks of sternum out of your back seat because some people just like asking too many questions RIGHT, AGATHA?

Tangents aside, our first exposure to anything, person or media, can irreparably color how we perceive it from that moment forward. Even if it goes on to prove itself a thousand fold, we still find ourselves leery because of the festering taint of negativity that was birthed from that botched first impression. But if we’re strong, really strong, and can work past our initial revulsion, then sometimes, when the stars align and the wind is right, we might be rewarded for our open-mindedness. And in this authors opinion, that is exactly what happens if one is to delve in to Berserk 2016: a stumbling, drunken monstrosity of a show  at first blush that almost dares you to love it, before exposing its golden core to those who resisted the urge to turn away in discomfort or disgust.

Author’s Note: This will be less a “review” and more a “stream of consciousness rambling about the virtues and failings of Berserk 2016,” so bear with me if this gets a little long winded at points. Also, let it be noted that I have been a fan of the series for over ten years now, having read the manga (so far as it exists), owning the anime and the Golden Age movies, and even having beat the Dreamcast game, despite the fact that it has aged like corpse tits. So I have a pretty solid base from which to discuss the series proper. That said, on with the show!

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E3 2016: New Berserk Dynasty Warriors Game Announced, Hachi Runs out of Synonyms for Disbelief

Well, fancy seeing you here.

Well, fancy seeing you here.

It is merely E3 eve and yet we’re already getting announcement bombed.

In a move that I could not have conceived in even my deepest inebriation (and trust me, that is some DEEP shit), Omega Force, which is the team in Koei Tecmo that works on the Sangoku Musou aka Dynasty Warriors series and most of it’s spinoffs, announced that the newest anime-fused branch of the franchise would be Berserk Musou, which will theoretically combine the hacking and slashing action of the Warriors games with Berserk, Kentaro Miura’s long-running masterpiece of dark fantasy and incredibly brutal horror. Continue reading

Square Enix Announces Final Fantasy XII Remaster, Hachi Tries to Remember Who The Hell Vaan is

Image converted using ifftoany

Return to a world where young man-boys quest to find enough material to complete their vests. And save the world. But mostly the vests.

In a genuinely surprising move, Squeenix announced a PS4 remaster of Final Fantasy XII called Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age, to release in 2017. Some of you may remember Final Fantasy XII as “That One Kid in the FF Family Who is Totally as Cool as his Siblings, But Wears Weird Clothes and Chose to be a Philosophy Major in College so his Parents Pretend he Doesn’t Exist Anymore: The Game.” There have been rumors for a long time that something like this was in the works, but most questions had been shot down with prejudice, making the rather sudden announcement even more of a shock.

Also, the game may star Gary Busey.

Also, the game may have starred young Gary Busey.

According to the press release, the game will feature the now-standard visual cleanups and texture enhancements, re-recorded soundtrack and a few of the bonuses that were previously exclusive to the Japanese version of the game. Also, apparently there’s a new trial mode with up to 100 consecutive battles for those who thought Yiazmat was not enough proof that God is real and he hates you and wants you to cry Continue reading

Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 Announced, Hachi Begins Formulating Testicle Puns

When the hype hits you right in the fucking face.

When the hype hits you right in the fucking face.

It’s been a pretty good past few years to be a Dragon Ball fan. The remastered version of the original series, Dragon Ball Kai, brought the series back into focus for modern anime fans who may have been too young to watch it upon its original release, or who had some moral opposition to men screaming and flexing for three episodes at a time. We got some OVAs here, an anniversary short there, and although the video games have been highly hit-and-miss in the wake of the Tenkaichi trilogy on the PS2, they all sold well enough to prove the franchise still had economic heft to it. The real resurgence came with the release and subsequent box office success of a new feature-length film, 2013’s Battle of Gods, which did great business not only in Japan, but in limited theater releases in other countries as well. Add in another highly successful film, 2015’s Resurrection ‘F’ (which yours truly had the pleasure of seeing on the big screen) and an entirely new television series following on from the aforementioned two movies that just wrapped up its first major plot arc, and it’s almost enough to make one forget the occasional trash we were served with for the past decade.

"Almost" being the operative word here.

“Almost” being the operative word here.

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Bravely Second’s Artbook – Not Even Premiums Are Safe From Censorship

Bravely Second Artbook censorship

Upon discovery of Bravely Second’s artbook getting censored in the west, something about that just did not sit well with me. Of all the censorship I’ve seen so far regarding games in the west, this one ranks up there as one of the most troubling, barely edging out the entirety of Fire Emblem Fates‘ localization (and maybe even the censorship occurring in Bravely Second itself). What’s going on with the artbook is yet another case of a Japanese videogame getting censored outside of its home territory. The new precedent here is that it’s also the artbook getting censored.

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Newest JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Game Announced for Release in the West, Hachi’s Shrieks Reverberate in Taiwan

So many colors, so little time.

So many colors, so little time.

Source: Gematsu

Namco Bandai, in their continuing bid to earn my undying affection and sexual favor, have announced today that JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of Heaven will release “In the Americas” sometime in Summer 2016 on the PS4. This announcement actually comes less than a week after the game’s release in Japan.

For those who don’t know, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is an extremely long-running manga series in Japan, focusing on the, well, bizarre adventures of the Joestar family, as they take on vampires, ancient Aztec demigods, superpowered mafia dons and time-bending clergy. This of course is a grievous oversimplification of the plot, which spans hundreds of chapters and eight individual parts over more than 20 years of publication, but all you really need to know is that it’s a shounen action story that embraces a colorfully gaudy aesthetic to create one of the most flamboyant, and amazingly fun, fighting series ever, where characters are likely to vogue while explaining their powers to each other and contort like dance-models while battling. Think Ru Paul’s Drag Race meets Fist of the North Star, mixed with Shaman King, and just meditate on how amazing that is. Continue reading

Top 10 DLC Fighters I’d Like To See In Smash 4

Top Smash Characters header

When Super Smash Bros. 4 was set to launch for the the next generation of platforms, we hoped for the possibility of new fighters arriving in the form of DLC. We’ve wanted something like this since Brawl, however such a thing would not happen or just not be feasible. But with Smash 4, we’ve now been graced with four DLC fighters: Mewtwo, Lucas, Roy, and Ryu. And for the first time ever, Nintendo has opened the floodgates and is letting the entire world vote for their favorite characters to be added as a fighter to SSB4’s roster. The Smash Fighter Ballot had already concluded on Saturday, October 3rd, 2015. But figured I might as well share who I feel would be a great addition the Smash roster. So hit the jump to see who my picks are.

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Retro Weekends – Nintendo Entertainment System

NES (Top Loader)

In 1983, there was a crash. Not a stock market crash or a car crash involving someone noteworthy. But a crash in the videogame industry. People got tired of playing the figurative whack-a-mole of “Find The Good Game”, with the all too common chance of picking up a bad game, and simply gave up. Videogames to the common people became a fad, and like many fads, it came and went. However this event was mostly situated in North America, and more specifically within the console market. In Japan, videogames were just as healthy as ever. Arcades and consoles saw use and playtime everyday. Nintendo had released the Famicom home console in Japan. But North America would prove to be a different beast to conquer. However once that beast was tamed, it became a formidable ally. On this Retro Weekend, we reminisce about the Nintendo Entertainment System.

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Nintendo President Satoru Iwata Has Passed Away

satoru-iwata-directly-to-you

In what could be be described as sudden and profoundly saddening, Nintendo has announced that its current president, Satoru Iwata, has passed away. They explain in a very short message that his death was due to a bile duct growth. He had surgery to remove this growth last year, which concerned many since it meant that he would skip out on last year’s E3. Upon his return, it seemed like everything was fine and that the surgery was a success. That is until today when Nintendo told us the news. According to their “Notification of Death and Personnel Change of a Representative Director (President)” (PDF) document, Iwata had actually died last Saturday, July 11th, and waited until today to fully confirm the news and relay the message to the public.

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After 14 Years of Service, Brook Avenue’s Game Champ Closes Its Doors

Game Champ

The moment many among us saw that “Store For Rent” sign under Game Champ’s sign, we knew the end was near for the store. The question was “when?” Well, that end came yesterday when Game Champ announced it was the last day to shop at the store. The store underwent many changes inside throughout the years, with its beginnings having a cellphone side. Eventually that side was removed to stock more games, and eventually used games. They then added on to inventory by having anime DVDs, wall scrolls, figures, and skateboards. On the game side, the store stocked new games as well as retro games dating as far back as the NES. Quite a few times during my college years, I’d recommend people go there if there was a retro game they were looking for. One of them managed to find a Dreamcast game that had eluded him for a while. One of the best things about the place was the convenience of having a game store right in our own back yard. For many living in the southern Mott Haven section, myself included, the only place you could get your gaming fix was at the Game Express and GameStop both located at The Hub of 3rd Ave. That required either hauling ass up there or taking a bus. Once Game Champ opened, it was only a matter of walking around the corner.

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Let’s Watch And Analyze The First Gameplay Trailer of Persona 5

So far news pertaining to Persona 5 has been pretty scant. The first trailer used chairs with ball & chains attached to them, with only the tagline “You are a slave. Want emancipation?” to go along with them. The second trailer showed a lot more, this time showing the main protagonist in a train heading towards the main city. Still, there wasn’t much we could go on except that whatever enemy was there showed up in the real world. So now we come to this, the first trailer to show gameplay as well as a lot more info than what the previous trailers were willing to let out. The quick cuts might be too much to take in or outright miss. So let’s break this down bit by bit.

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AO-Rated Games: An Idea On How They Could Be Sold On Consoles

AO Games

Ever since its inception, the Entertainment Software Ratings Board, or ESRB, has had the AO rating in its repertoire of ratings. AO, short for Adults Only, is a relatively rare rating to get with only 27 games ever getting the rating (now 28 with Hatred’s inclusion). Most of them get it for essentially being porn games, with very few getting it for violent acts and one getting it for real-money gambling. Unlike other rating boards around the world, the ESRB does not ban a game for having certain content nor does it refuse a rating (like the BBFC and Manhunt 2). However the AO rating is pretty much a kiss of death in the U.S. as no major retailer will carry an AO game (except maybe GameStop) and all three console manufacturers and Valve’s Steam (from what I’m guessing) don’t allow such games to be sold nor played on their respective services. This was back then when the only way to get your games was in brick and mortar stores.

But with the rise if digital storefronts, it’s now possible to release games with content that could be considered AO. On PC at least, while not rated, games like Katawa Shoujo and Monster Girl Quest probably wouldn’t see the light of day on Steam. And yet they have gained something of a healthy following. On top of this, those games are available directly from the developer’s/publisher’s websites. So in exchange for exposure, they get the freedom to sell whatever they want on their own terms.

So how exactly would games like these find a way on major storefronts like Steam or major consoles?

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I Stand On My Soapbox: The Aftermath – What To Do Next?

The Aftermath - What To Do Next

What transpired this week has been nothing short of chaotic and, personally, further enlightening of how I feel about the state of affairs regarding the gaming community and gaming journalism. As I write this, I’m still afraid of the repercussions that might be imposed on me, my staff, and everything we’ve worked on since 2011. So much so that I’m even afraid to name names. I’m not even tagging this article with the terms that it should be tagged in. Never before have I seen a single article be enough to take an entire website offline, and self-hosted no less. I expressed my concerns when this whole thing started blowing up, and that’s exactly what happened. Thankfully, the site has returned, but I can’t imagine how stressful it must be to see everything you worked on disappear because of something you said on a single article. This is the kind of thing the SOPA fiasco warned us about, where criticism and reporting, even at its most objective, would simply be wiped away because the subject(s) didn’t like what was being said.

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